1. philfoot
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    philfoot New Member

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    writing using MS Word

    Discussion in 'Software' started by philfoot, Jul 25, 2010.

    Hi to everyone

    New, in fact very new writer here. I am rather unique in that I have a wonderful book idea, in fact its virtually written in my head, but before it becomes a top seller worldwide and I make a fortune I need to get it down on paper, OK let me dream a liitle please.

    Have found some very useful comments on writing software, and yes I fell for it, and the company that produced it didint want to know when I had a problem. So if anyone wants a cheap copy of Novel writing software meet me down at the car boot sale and you will grab a bargain, any offers over 50pence will suffice.

    So decided I am going to use MS Word, yes I know there are others, but deciding was almost as bad as picking the Saturday night lottery numbers, so do not confuse me please.

    Have found some ideas of how I should produce myself a template, but not sure how big the page size should be. Books are A5 size, but in no ones guide does it say to make it A5 size, so does everyone set it to A4 then when they get to the final stage alter the setting to A5, or is it just taken as read that it is set to A5 from the onset.

    This may seem a silly question, but I have this fear that if I write my work of art that I will have written it I the 'wrong' format and create many hours of extra work.

    What are the thoughts on the 'standard' MS Word 2007 book manuscript template, looks to have everything I need, I think !

    Just an aside without appearing to be creeping, it is great forum, I have spent a lot of time browsing, cant view everything in one go, but sure is a site to come back to.

    I can see this site helping me to get the best out of me to help me produceTHE best selling novel 2011, well ok it may be 2012, lol.

    Your help would be very welcome.

    Many thanks

    Phil
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Phil, never mind page size and layout. You should be writing a manuscript. Layout is the publisher's job, not the writer's.

    First off, look at potential publishers. Many post manuscript guidelines. In general, the most commonly preferred format is a 12 point fixed-width serif font (Courier New is widely recommended), Letter sized paper (8.5" x 11"), 1" margins on all sides. Courier is often considered much more readable than Times New Roman. The text should be left-aligned (ragged right), and numbering begins after the title page.

    Short pieces generally do not require a cover page. Instead, the title and auther (pen name) appear at the top of page 1. As always, check your publisher's submission guidelines to see whether a title page is requested.

    Paragraph format should be double spaced, with no leading or trailing vertical spacing, and with a 0.5" first line indent.

    Each page except the title page should have a header that contains the author's last name (pen name), condensed title (some publishers suggest all caps), and page number. When submitting a hardcopy manuscript, it should be printed single-sided unless the publisher specifies otherwise.

    Before submitting, check that publishers's guidelines and make appropriate adjustments. The above settings will meet many publishers' guidelines and will require minimal changes for most others.

    I'm assuming you are writing a novel. although your post seemed somewhat ambiguous about that. If you are writing nonfiction, you'll have to put together sample chapters and a proposal for the publisher. If you are writing a novel, you need to complete the manuscript (including proofreading and revising) before you send out queries.

    MS Word documents are the standard format for electronic submissions.
     
  3. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Out of interest do people find Microsoft Word the best word processor to use. I currently have no word processor on my PC after will be buying a new one. MS Word seems to be the standard or could I do better?
     
  4. Langadune
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    Langadune Member

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    MS Word is probably the most common and most publishers use it (electronic submissions are usually preferred in the *.doc) format. That said, it's also expensive. OpenOffice.org has a completely version that is nearly identical to Word and documents can be saved in the *.doc format so no one will know it's not Word.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    MS Word is the standard. If you can afford it, get it. OpenOffice claims to be completely compatiible, but in my experience, there is no such thing as 100% compatibility in the software world.

    And now, let's get back to the original poster's question.
     
  6. philfoot
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    philfoot New Member

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    Hi

    Thanks to you all.

    In particular Cogito who is 100% correct; I have been getting so invloved in setting out my novel, and fearing that it will be in the 'incorrect' format that I have been taken off track.

    I have read several articles and they seem to stress the format angle, so I have brushed them to the back of my mind, and took your advice and have already set sail on my writing journey.

    I am using MS Word 2007 because it was already pre-loaded on my 12 month old Dell laptop, so it is the obvious choice for me.

    Thanks again, and I am sure I will be popping up in various forums as I go along.

    Thanks again.

    Kind regards

    Phil
     
  7. Langadune
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    Langadune Member

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    I used to spend (waste) alot of time trying to set up a format that I thought matched a book style and sometimes just what I thought looked cool. Then I discovered the manuscript format. I set up a template and converted most of my work to that format (of course keeping a copy in my original format).

    I'd recommend looking at the submission guidelines posted by the publisher who would mostly publish your work then format your work accordingly.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    phil...

    if you'll be submitting only to agents in uk/commonwealth countries, A4 is ok... for the us, standard letter size as cog specified is the norm, though A4 mss won't be tossed if the content is good, since many us agents have clients in other countries...

    for the nitty-gritty on ms format, go here: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

    welcome to wf.org!

    love and hugs, maia
     
  9. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    MS Word is the easiest writing tool to use on my laptop. I don't have to format much and I can quickly get down to writing my story.
     
  10. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Haven't had many issues with MS Word. Have never used the template to which you referred. It is pretty easy to format without one.
     
  11. OvershadowedGuy
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    OvershadowedGuy Member

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    Just write, figure the rest out in post.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm intrigued--I have never read submission guidelines that wanted anything other than A4. What is 'letter size'? For British letters, that means A4 if they are typed. The 3 short stories I've had published, the guideline was A4. I've only submitted in the UK.

    About font, one of my early stories rejected by a magazine was returned with a slightly snarky comment about using Courier 'I ought to know this was only for screenplays'. I've used Times New Roman since that. It is the most frequently asked for font in the UK. You need to be sure to check the submission guidelines, one agent wanted Bookman Old Style for some reason. Usually readers don't like sans font.

    One women's mag I submitted to wanted "...." speech marks, one wanted '....'. Again, check guidelines.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The publisher's own guidelines do trump the general recommendations, of course.

    Most publishers do prefer Courier over Times New Roman, so I find the snarky comment surprising. The reason is TNR is a proportional font, whereas Courier is a fixed-width prompt. Fixed width serif fonts are preferred because it is easier to see and mark typographical errors in such a font.

    Almost all publishers prefer serif fonts. except for poetry. Poetry submissions seem more or less evenly split between preferring serif and sans-serif fonts.

    The UK is going through a transition over quote marks. Traditionally, they have preferred single quoted (') dialogue, but they are increasingly joining the rest of the English-speaking world in preferring double quoted (") dialogue. United States publishers all prefer double quotes.
     
  14. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    'Letter-size' is 8.5"x11" (or, to quote Wikipedia since I can't do math, 'exactly 215.9 mm × 279.4 mm.') Slightly wider and more than slightly shorter than A4, thus, which is 210mm x297mm. I know it exists in your neck of the woods (or did when I was in Ireland) but can't recall what your name for it might have been.
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    All the UK publishers and literary agents I have looked at ask for 12pt Times New Roman, double line spaced A4. Unless they accept email submissions.

    The synopsis requested is for 1 A4 page or less than 700 words.
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    fullscap. With the move towards metric measurements its been almost entirely done away with haven't seen it in about 20 years.
     
  17. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    As it's been nearly done away, that would explain why I know I saw it at the UCD bookstore during my year abroad just over a decade ago, but can't place a term for it. Thanks!
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...that's probably because you haven't dealt with agents/publishers in the us, though the paper size won't always be mentioned in the guidelines, as it's assumed writers will know it's to be 'letter size'...

    what is that?... or did you mean 'sans serif'?
     
  19. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I meant sans serif, I was just trying to keep it short.
    Foolscap? That went out years ago in UK and Europe. I don't think it's sold any more. Even 30 yrs ago when I was a student it was nearly unobtainable.
    @ Elgaisma: Yes, that's what I have found. Even when I was submitting back in 1983, the golfball typewriters we used didn't do Courier.
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Glad I am not going mad lol Have realised publisher guidelines are very different here. My parents still had foolscap folders and we had loads Dad had brought back from work when they stopped using it I am 34 and have no real experience of it beyond that.

    Have found one publishers I would love to get my story in at and several agents that take email submissions, and they don't seem to have any guidelines. They are mostly Scottish.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Of course they did. The Selectric line featured changeable typeballs, and all the models except Selectric I featured the ability to switch between 10 and 12 pitch.

    The Courier and Elite fonts were the most popular typeballs. I don't recall which was typically shipped with the machine.
     
  22. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    My golfball typewriter's font didn't look like the 'Courier' that Word offers. It certainly only had one font option, not 2 (this was 1983). I can't remember which font it used though--in spite of spending 2 months typing out my report and thesis on it.
     
  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't remember the Selectric line in the UK. Fact is technology is different. Just like my American friends seem to only just discovering the joys of the electric kettle and a duvet something we have had for 30 years. Our typewriters were different. Mine had choice of colour to type (green, red or black), but there was certainly no font choice and it was much closer to Times New Roman as was the little printer that came with the Spectrum 48K.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The typing ball was an IBM patented technology that made it possible to easily change typing fonts and replace damaged print heads. The mechanism driving it was also designed to prevent jams caused by simultaneous keystrokes. I don't see how the "golf ball" typewriter could be anything but an IBM product.

    Anyway, this is really off topic.
     

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